North Korea invites state counsellor to visit
Foreign Affairs Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been invited to visit North Korea by her counterpart representing the pariah state, with no decision yet made on whether she will accept.
STATE Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been invited to visit North Korea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday.
An official from the ministry told The Myanmar Times that the government had not yet replied to the invitation of the communist pariah state, known officially as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and that the state counsellor was fielding similar overtures from many countries in her first few months as Myanmar’s de facto leader.
“France and Germany also invited her but she hasn’t yet decided where to go first. China and US trips [are planned] too,” the official said yesterday.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters at the Myanmar embassy in Vientiane, Laos, on July 26 that she would have to confer with other members of her government before committing to a visit. She added that the invitation was delivered personally by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho on July 25 during an ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in the Laotian capital.
The Daily Eleven newspaper reported that the state counsellor, who also serves as foreign minister, met with her North Korean counterpart bilaterally but she declined to reveal what was discussed.
U Ye Tun, a former lower house MP and political columnist, advised the state counsellor against the visit, citing the likely negative impact it would have on Myanmar’s bilateral relations with rival South Korea.
“Our country won’t get any benefit from a North Korea trip. South Korea is invested in our country. So, our leader shouldn’t go there,” he said.
The state counsellor had also planned to visit Malaysia in the coming month but Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe said her increasingly packed schedule may not permit it in the near term.
“There are a lot of trips to take. Although she may not visit Malaysia [soon], I need to go there for [Myanmar] migrant workers,” he told The Myanmar Times.
Under the former military regime, allegations frequently surfaced of ties between Myanmar and North Korea that included efforts by the junta to acquire nuclear weapons technology. Those accusations subsided as Myanmar began its transition to quasicivilian rule in 2011, but that did not stop a New York Times reporter from asking Daw Aung San Suu Kyi about it at a press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Nay Pyi Taw in May.
“Do you believe you had a [nuclear weapons] program at one point, or the government, the previous government, had a program?” he asked.
“Well, if they did, they haven’t said anything about that to me. The previous government was not in the habit of informing me of what they were doing,” she replied, to laughter.
‘Our country won’t get any benefit from a North Korea trip ... so our leader shouldn’t go there.’
U Ye Tun Political columnist